The Antigua Labour Party (ALP) expresses its abhorrence and strongest condemnation of the burning of the home of Comrade Gretna Francis on Thursday morning, June 3, 2010. Gretna Francis is an active member of the ALP and its Rural West Branch; she is the first Comrade to start the picket in front of the Prime Minister’s office every Tuesday morning since March 31, or these past eight weeks. The ALP conducts a weekly picket on Queen Elizabeth Highway every Tuesday morning since Justice Blenman voided the elections of Baldwin Spencer and two other UPP members.
The burning of Gretna Francis’ home fits a pattern which the ALP lays squarely at the feet of UPP operatives.
More than a month ago, the automobile of Comrade Adolfo Pena was set ablaze in the Rural West Constituency. Comrade Pena hosts a talk-show on ZDK Radio every Wednesday night that is critical of Mr. Spencer and the UPP. Comrade Pena suffered material loss though he never flinched, and he continued his work on behalf of the ALP. His truck was also set afire when parked within the ZDK compound during the 2009 election campaign.
The Office and computer center of Comrade Gail Christian, the ALP candidate who opposed Baldwin Spencer, was also set afire and burnt by suspected UPP operatives almost 15 months ago, on the eve of the 2009 elections. The Office and Computer Center are also located within the Rural West Constituency.
Comrade Asot Michael’s Office and Computer Center in Parham were also set afire and burnt on the same night that Comrade Gail Christian’s Office and Computer Center were burnt by unknown arsonists, suspected to be UPP operatives.
During the period when the UPP was in opposition, it was not unusual for government buildings to be set afire. Even the police quarters at the Government House were burnt by arsonists, believed to be UPP operatives.
This pattern of lawlessness and political violence where unknown persons, believed to be UPP operatives, set afire homes, offices, computer centers, vehicles and other property belonging to ALP officials and supporters, is completely unacceptable. Mr. Baldwin Spencer called upon his supporters “to confront ALP supporters” on the eve of the 2009 elections campaign. Recently, Mr. Spencer announced that he was “declaring war against” the ALP. His violent and lawless language has likely inspired his own supporters to engage in unlawful and dangerous acts that imperil life and destroy property.
The ALP calls upon the Royal Police Force and the Fire Department to step up its investigation and to find the criminals who endanger the lives of ALP supporters, and who destroy the property of ALP officials and supporters, by setting fire to their property. This pattern of criminal political activity cannot be allowed to take root in Antigua. Mr. Spencer ought to be questioned and warned for using language that encourages unlawful political activity.